It’s probably the news which most Android users don’t want to hear, but new statistics revealed today paint an extremely concerning picture about the level of malware that is present in Android apps. A report carried out by well-known security firm TrustGo is indicating that malware on the Android platform has grown by an astonishing 580% in the last twelve months. It’s also being reported that the rise in malware is coming at a time when downloads of apps that are classified as high risk are on the up.
The figures that are being quoted are enough to instill virus related fear into any Android user with a smartphone or a tablet, but when you actually put the whole report into context, it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems and that the findings may have been presented in a way that could cause panic. The released information shows that the number of apps on the Android platform that contain malicious code or other malware based content is on the rise, something that can’t really be disputed. However, the quoted stats have actually been put together from testing 1.7 million apps with their own security software, most of which aren’t even from the Play Store.
The apps that have been scanned were taken from over 175 different markets that provide Android content across the world, with 4,951 malware occurrences found in September 2011 and a staggering 28,797 found in September of this year. In addition to the rising number of apps that contain some kind of malicious content, TrustGo is also extremely concerned about the popular apps on the Play Store that are potentially unsafe for users.
It seems that apps can either provide a risk of actually causing damage to the device it is installed on, or fall into a high risk category, which means the app attempts to run unethical processes, like sending data back to remote servers, or track internet browsing habits through the device’s web browser. It seems that in the last year there has been over 175 million downloads of apps that are running those processes in the background, which is a figure that should definitely be causing concern among Android users.
Although it is pretty much impossible to look at the information and description of an app to determine if it is safe to run, it is a good practice to only get content from official sources like the Google Play Store and make sure that you understand the need for the different permissions that the app requests. If in doubt, simply don’t download.
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